MORE needs to be done to help male victims of domestic abuse, Kent Police and a local charity have both warned.
According to the Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services [DAVSS], who operate throughout West Kent, national surveys show that one in six men suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime. This contrasts to one in four women.
In total, it is estimated that for every three victims of domestic abuse, two will be female, one will be male. Yet despite these figures, Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley has reported that only 8 per cent of recorded domestic abuse victims are male.
Speaking at a review of the force’s performance, he said: “Do I think all female victims are reporting domestic abuse? No, I don’t, but fortunately for us it’s a much better picture than it was five years ago. We’re getting a truer picture from females being brave enough and confident enough to report that to us.
“The male victim [reporting] is some way behind that. It’s increasing, but I think we are still some way away from most male victims of domestic abuse feeling confident enough – for many reasons – to report it.”
One of those reasons, according to DAVSS CEO Mark Hutcheon, is the social stigma for men to admit their situation to people.
“Culturally, men are meant to be the strong element of the family. This macho image means male victims think they may not be believed and that they should be able to deal with it themselves,” he said, adding that they had seen an increase in the number of male referrals, but that the number was still only 17 out of a total of 201 over a year period – well below the estimated proportions of domestic abuse.
But the team at DAVSS are determined to address this. With the backing of a £10,000 grant from Kent Police & Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, they have been training their staff in how to deal with male victims as well as trying to bring in more men as volunteers as victims often find it easier to speak to someone of the same gender.
DAVSS co-Chair Jan Berry said they offer ‘a very bespoke service’ for both the men and women who get in touch with them.
People can speak over the phone or meet in person, and they also offer access to lawyers for pro bono legal advice. The people of West Kent are fortunate in this regard as ‘most [domestic violence] charities do not support male victims’, according to Ms Berry.
ν To contact DAVSS, ring 01892 570538 between 10am and 1pm on weekdays. Answerphone outside these hours. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org